Startup nations | Israel, Silicon Valley still hot for each other

The collaboration between the Silicon Valley tech ecosystem and Israel’s Silicon Wadi tech scene seems to be growing exponentially.

In what ways are these two tech hotbeds so closely intertwined? For one, U.S. venture capital firms are investing significant funds in Israeli tech companies, with the average funding round increasing significantly from $6.11 million during the first half of 2014 to $7.32 million the first half of 2015.

Many U.S.-based corporations also have been acquiring hot Israeli technologies, and more and more Israeli startups are moving their headquarters to Silicon Valley (more than 100, according to the Israel Executives and Founders Forum).

However, more than in previous years, Israeli startups are beginning to grow larger before being absorbed — and are even showing they themselves can acquire other companies (often also from Israel). Now that Tel Aviv has been ranked by Compass as the world’s No. 5 “startup ecosystem,” this signals a very interesting year ahead.

Organizations like the California Israel Chamber of Commerce, a longtime partner of the Israel Economic Mission, play a significant role in developing this burgeoning partnership.

Together with the CICC, we are proud to be bringing back the California Israel Business Summit CiConnect after last year’s successful summit. The aim of CiConnect 2015 is strengthening ties between California-based businesses and innovative Israeli technologies and startups — bolstering ties between these physically distant but strategically intertwined worlds.

This year, CiConnect will focus on the “innovation fusion” among multiple technology segments, including IoT (Internet of Things), cybersecurity, big data, cloud and mobile. More than 20 startups and 18 industry speakers have signed up to present so far.

The event will take place Oct. 21 at the Microsoft venue in Mountain View. To register or for more information, visit

The CICC is a not-for-profit, industry-supported organization dedicated to promoting and strengthening the business communities of California and Israel through thought leadership and promoting business, investment, entrepreneurship, technology and trade relations.


Startup of the month

GreenIQ, an Israeli IoT startup, is the developer of the Smart Garden Hub, which is bringing smart home technologies to people’s front yards. By automatically controlling the irrigation of the home garden, including shutting down the system after rainfall, GreenIQ hopes to save customers up to 50 percent on their outdoor water bills. Founded in 2013, GreenIQ has raised more than $2 million in funding. It sells products on its own website as well as on Home Depot’s site, a testament to how quickly the company has managed to enter the U.S. market.


Exit of the month

NICE Systems, known for its enterprise software, recently sold off its Physical Security Business Unit for a reported $100 million to global tech investor Battery Ventures. PSBU has groundbreaking technology in video surveillance, allowing users to input descriptions of a target and have the video feed search for it in real time. It was the second unit sell-off for NICE in the last few months. In May, in an effort to stay lean and focus on its core businesses, it sold its cyber and intelligence division to Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems for $115 million.

Gili Ovadia is the S.F.-based Israeli consul for economic affairs to the West Coast.